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Architects Brand New Homes as “Shameful”

by Sarah Halloran

The Royal Institute of British Architects has referred to many new-build homes in the UK as “shameful shoe boxes” that are too small for family life.

RIBA has carried out its ‘Case for Space’ study of 3,418 three-bedroom properties in the UK and reported that the average three-bedroomed house is 8% smaller than the recommended minimum.  That lost space equates to the size of a single bedroom, according to RIBA – enough room for a single bed, bedside table, wardrobe, desk and chair.

Even worse, some three-bedroomed homes were found to be even smaller, with a shortfall of two double bedrooms or built using only 77% of the recommended minimum space.  Whilst there are currently no UK-wide ‘minimum space’ standards, RIBA’s research was conducted using the London Plan space standards based on the 96 sq m minimum currently laid out in the guidelines.

RIBA chief executive Harry Rich said that these new homes were causing some homeowners to live a lesser quality of life.  He said “Our homes should be places that enhance our lives and well-being,”

“However, as our new research confirms, thousands of cramped houses – shameful shoe box homes – are being churned out all over the country, depriving households of the space they need to live comfortably and cohesively.”

As a result of its findings, RIBA wants consumers to have access to better information from house builders and estate agents so they can see exactly what they are getting for their money.  Off-plan properties can be deceptive and RIBA would like all plans to include furniture and other fittings to give consumers a clearer picture.  Show-homes should also be furnished completely and present rooms as realistically as possible.

A spokesman said: “Under our planning reforms neighbourhoods will be able to design and vote on their own plans for the future of their areas, giving them the chance to exercise meaningful choice over the type and size of homes that are built, and giving developers the chance to benefit from a smoother process for getting planning permission by working with local people from the start.”

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